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Fossil Fuels, Jesus, and You

The headline screams, “Group Representing Half A Billion Christians Says It Will No Longer Support Fossil Fuels.” From that report on the ClimateProgress web page to news blasts around the world (Associated Press, The Guardian, Huffington Post, etc.) the word is alive: The World Council of Churches, representing over half a billion people, opposes investing in fossil fuels. Now, that’s news!

Before there was ever a movie called Back to the Future there was the very grammar of the bible itself. According to ancient biblical grammar—and wisdom—you don’t go headlong into the future, you back into it. You move forward by looking back to your roots, to who you are, to why you are. Deep identity and deep meaning move us meaningfully into the future. But…

… like a bad car on a bad road, our addiction to fossil fuels is moving us toward a free fall that makes Thelma and Louise’s plunge look like a skip in the park. Our addiction is shortsighted and suicidal in at least two ways: 1) The resources are finite, and 2) Our harnessing of them contributes to climate change. And, of course, those two things are very closely connected. The more desperate we get for our fix—drilling ever deeper, fracking ever more carelessly, unearthing ever dirtier product (tar sands v. regular crude)—the more we contribute to climate change. What would Jesus do?

The bible actually provides a clear answer to that question when it comes to mother earth. One that Christians have ignored to an extraordinary degree through the modern era, but to which we have been awakening slowly over the past few decades. According to the ancient Christian creed, when it comes to creation it is “through him”—that is, the Christ part or aspect of God—that “all things were made.” According to the Hebrew Bible it is the very Wisdom of God through which God creates and sustains and delights (Proverbs 8:22 – 31). According to the New Testament, Jesus identifies directly with this Wisdom (Luke 7:35). According to another part of the New Testament, the Word which became flesh in Jesus Christ was or is (hard to know, when talking about eternal things) that very Wisdom of God by which God creates (John 1:1-4). According to yet another part of the New Testament, it is in Christ that “all the fullness of God”—that is, all of creation and every part of it—“was pleased to dwell“ (Colossians 1:19).

The deep identity and deep meaning for Christians is clear. Creation and Jesus Christ are all tied up with each other. What a great thing it is that Christians in our day and age are re-awakening to that deep, deep truth. The kind of truth you hold onto and move forward with as you move into the future. Here’s to a future in which Christians lead the way to sustaining and thriving not only on our planet, but with our planet. God will delight in that!

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